Digital camcorders are admittedly more boring than digital cameras. Digital cameras have more flexibility because they have video recording features too while digital camcorders can come in different sizes but have similar form factors. There are times when some camcorder manufacturers innovate but it isn’t often because the number of people that need these types of gadgets is decreasing. The key to survival is giving the small audience exactly what they need and fulfill these needs far better than the competition. Canon is doing this with their VIXIA series but last 2013, they also added a completely new product called the Canon VIXIA mini. It wasn’t perfect but it did get a lot of attention with its unique look and interesting features focused on a very specific crowd. The following year, Canon released the more refined Canon VIXIA mini X.
About the Canon VIXIA mini X
Canon describes the VIXIA mini X as a “pocket-sized” camcorder and it is apparent when you take it out of the box. It doesn’t look like an average camcorder at all as it is flat, compact and a bit bigger than those camera battery chargers. It has a 2.7-inch capacitive touch display facing upwards and it pops out so you can tilt it at an angle and optionally flip it to face the opposite direction. The bottom of the camcorder has a small popup stand so you can set it up on a table and have the camera look directly at your face. This setup makes the target audience a bit more obvious – it is a camcorder for the vlogging (or video blogging) community. You can think of it as an advanced webcam because it has Canon’s VIXIA technologies and a nice 4:3 aspect ratio screen so you can look at yourself while doing your video recording.
With the Canon VIXIA mini X targeting video bloggers, it likely won’t be the camera that you will carry around with you wherever you go but nothing should stop you from doing that. The VIXIA mini X can be used as a traditional compact camcorder too and the included hand strap proves just that. You might look a little bit weird recording stuff outdoors but the controls are properly positioned at the sides for easy access. There is even a tripod mount on the bottom if you wish to do more stable recording. Canon didn’t change the design of the original VIXIA mini making the VIXIA mini X all about refinements and under-the-hood improvements.
Comparison with the Canon VIXIA mini
The upgraded Canon VIXIA mini X is proof that people loved the niche nature of the original Canon VIXIA mini. Even some musicians used the Canon VIXIA mini to record their performances but the audio recording quality was mediocre. The VIXIA mini X aims directly at that emerging audience by sporting a pair of significantly bigger microphones flanking the lens. If professionals aren’t too convinced with these internal microphones, they can now plug in their own external gear thanks to the dedicated mic input jack with a neighboring audio level control. There is even a headphone jack for monitoring purposes and an uncompressed HDMI output. The embedded timecode means that you can merge video and audio with output coming from other cameras. With AVCHD 24 Mbps recording mode activated, you can also apply Linear PCM audio encoding for really superior audio quality. Outside of the audio improvements, Canon also added electronic image stabilization which should prove to be useful when using the close-up mode.
Although the Canon VIXIA mini X has a unique form factor and serves a very narrow niche, it is still a VIXIA camcorder by heart and it has many of the familiar technologies and proprietary components like the Canon HS System and the Canon DIGIC DV 4 processor.
It also shares the Wi-Fi and live streaming capabilities that can be found in newer VIXIA models like the R60 and R62. This means that VIXIA mini X can be used as a wireless hotspot where mobile devices and computers can connect to it for mobile browsing. The same Canon apps for Android and iOS are compatible with the Canon VIXIA mini X too so you can install the Movie Uploader app to your iPhone to allow easy wireless uploading from the camcorder or use the CameraAccess plus app for remote operation and live streaming. It is even compatible with Canon’s Pan Table base accessory which can transform the VIXIA mini X into a surveillance camera.
The Canon HS system consists of a 12.8-megapixel CMOS sensor and the Canon DIGIC DV 4 image processor. Together, these components handle low-light situations rather well and that’s important since this camcorder is primarily for indoor usage. The audio quality improvements are very noticeable even if you are not wearing headphones. The MP4 format is a little bit restricted with just 1080p/30p and 1080p/24p options available. You have to switch to the AVCHD format if you want very high resolution 1080p60i recordings but it is also worth remembering that this format brings out the best audio quality too. There are even some extra modes like slow motion and even fast motion allowing you to do all sorts of things with this flexible camcorder. Video quality isn’t as good as a standard VIXIA camcorder due to the fixed lens but it is still better than the average smartphone.
• Like a webcam but works independently and has the heart of a VIXIA camcorder.
• Can still be used as a compact camcorder.
• Major audio improvements over the original Canon VIXIA mini.
• Dedicated headphone and mic jacks.
• Fixed lens.
• $399 retail price a bit high.
The Canon VIXIA mini X has limited appeal but for that specific target audience, there is nothing better. If you don’t need the advanced microphones and other improvements, Canon continues to sell the original VIXIA mini for under $300. It is a cool little gadget to have if you are into video blogging, podcasting or showcasing musical performances. Just don’t forget to buy an SD card too as there is no internal memory present.